Bears' Miller, Kreutz admit to fight that led to injury

Updated: November 14, 2005, 7:32 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Bears center Olin Kreutz will not be suspended by Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith for breaking teammate Fred Miller's jaw in a fight last week.

 Olin Kreutz
Kreutz

 Fred Miller
Miller

The players admitted Monday they had the fight. Smith, obviously unhappy he wasn't told the truth about what happened until late last week, said he won't suspend the players but will discipline them. He wouldn't be specific, but fines are expected.

Miller needed surgery last week after initially saying he hurt his jaw in a fall at his home last Monday.

"We're disappointed -- and I really found this out later on in the week -- we're disappointed in the fact we weren't told right away," Smith said Monday.

"But you know when you have a season going like this, guys like to protect the team as much as possible and that's what happened."

Miller and Kreutz came to the Bears locker room Monday -- it is often not open after the team wins the previous day -- made statements and took a few questions about the incident.

Incidentally, Kreutz, who played at the University of Washington, was reportedly involved in an incident with a teammate in the weeks leading up to the 1998 NFL draft and broke that teammate's jaw in two places.

"We realize it was something very stupid on both of our parts and it's not going to happen again," Miller said as he apologized to his family, his teammates and Kreutz.

Details of the fight were not clear, and neither Kreutz or Miller would provide them. They came forward with their admission after reports came out Sunday, saying Miller's broken jaw did not come from a fall.

"I found out about it later in the week on the weekend and I started dealing with it then," Smith said. "Guys make mistakes and sometimes you say things to try to cover up something, and in the end most of the time the truth comes out. Which it did. Now we're admitting the truth of what happened and we're going from there."

Miller missed Sunday's game against the 49ers, ending a stretch of 110 straight starts dating back to 1998. He will also be sidelined this Sunday when Carolina visits Soldier Field. John St. Clair will start again in his place against the Panthers' talented defensive front.

Kreutz, a four-time Pro Bowl center, said: "Things got out of hand. Something happened and it just got out of hand."

Kreutz, who is 6-foot-2, 292 pounds, and the 6-7, 320-pound Miller, an offensive tackle, said they talked after the altercation.

"I don't know if it will ever be completely gone, you know, but we're over it," Kreutz said. "The team is the No. 1 thing and we're going to try to move on."

Miller, a 10-year veteran who was one of the Bears' main offseason acquisitions, characterized the incident as "immature and stupid."

"Olin and I don't have a problem with each other," said Miller, who has a steel plate in his jaw.

"We're still going to go out there and play and we're going to work together. We're still going to go out on our regular nights and have dinner together as an offensive line and as a unit."

Smith reiterated that the concocted story was as big an issue as the actual incident.

"We had a fight, or not even a fight, there was an altercation. It was no more than that," Smith said.

"It's not a big deal really. The big deal is that we didn't report what really happened right away. And that's what we are trying to clear up. ... As you deal with family matters, I have a brother. Sometimes brothers fight. No more than that and you move on. "

Defensive back Jerry Azumah said Monday he doesn't expect the incident to be a distraction.

"I think adversity happens on every team and it's all about how you deal with it and how you handle it," Azumah said. "Right now we're on a bigger thing, a bigger aspect right now and that's about winning."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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